"While none of this will bring Lisa back, it will hopefully ensure that the next gay couple who arrives at the door of an emergency room will not be kept apart."
(Washington D.C., June 21, 2010) - Tomorrow night, just days before the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) publishes new regulations on hospital visitation, Lambda Legal client Janice Langbehn will be a guest at the White House pride event.
"We're proud that Janice has been invited to the White House in recognition of her tireless advocacy beginning in a Florida hospital over three years ago. Our work together has resulted in new federal rules that we hope will lead to respect and better care for same-sex couples across the country," said Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director for Lambda Legal. "We are pleased that the Obama Administration has taken steps to address the discrimination affecting LGBT patients and their families and look forward to reviewing the new HHS regulations."
Last September, a federal court in Florida rejected Lambda Legal's lawsuit filed against Jackson Memorial Hospital on behalf of Janice Langbehn, ruling that no law required the hospital to allow her and their three children to see her partner, Lisa Pond. Langbehn and the children were kept apart from Pond by hospital staff for eight hours as Pond slipped into a coma and died. Since then, Lambda Legal has been working with other LGBT organizations and hospital officials to address the policies that leave many same-sex couples and their families vulnerable during critical times.
In April, President Obama signed a memo directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to take steps to address hospital visitation and other health care issues affecting LGBT families. After signing the memo President Obama called Janice from Air Force One to tell her about the memo and express his sympathy for how she and her family were treated by the hospital.
The HHS regulations are set to be published on June 25th.
"I am honored to be invited to the White House and to have had the opportunity to tell my family's story," said Janice Langbehn. "While none of this will bring Lisa back, it will hopefully ensure that the next gay couple who arrives at the door of an emergency room will not be kept apart."
For background on Langbehn v. Jackson Memorial, go to http://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/langbehn-v-jackson-memorial.html